Even before his on-again, off-again threat to punish the government of Syria for the use of chemical weapons, President
Now critics are complaining that the administration is cementing Assad's hold on power by agreeing to a Russian-proposed plan for the decommissioning of Syria's chemical arsenal. By definition, they argue, a plan that requires the cooperation of the Assad government extends its lease on life and spares it from accountability for war crimes. And that, in turn, demoralizes the moderate Syrian opposition.
If only it were that simple. The humanitarian toll of the war has been horrific, but there is no guarantee that more forceful
Given these complexities, we supported Obama's efforts to pursue a diplomatic solution that would stop the fighting, ease Assad out of power and, if the stars aligned, lead to the creation of a government that would respect the rights of ethnic and religious minorities. Obama adhered to that cautious approach even when he was considering a military response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria. He made it clear that a strike would be designed to hold Assad accountable and degrade his chemical weapons capability, not to drive him from office. The administration is now hopeful that those limited objectives will be achieved peacefully, through the disarmament program authorized by the United Nations Security Council last month.